Pope Emeritus? A black pope?

Strange times at the Vatican.  I was at the gym this morning; on the TVs, all three morning news shows were reporting live from Saint Peter’s Square.  I listened to Arcade Fire instead, because it was highly unlikely any of them would have anything interesting to say.  You need to go elsewhere for that.

One of the top candidates to replace Benedict is a black cardinal from Ghana, Peter Turkson.  I find this particularly fascinating, since my novel Pontiff features a black pope.  So it was my idea first!  My guy is not this guy, though.  He strikes me as the Church’s equivalent of Marco Rubio (not Obama) — he may have appeal to people the Church wants to appeal to, but any changes he brings will be in style, not in substance.  This is from the New Yorker:

He will not lessen opposition to gay marriage or undo the directive stating that men with “deeply rooted homosexual tendencies” should not be ordained as priests. On the contrary, Turkson has defended anti-gay legislation in Africa and argued that “alternative lifestyles” should not be considered human rights…. Similarly, there is no reason to expect shifts on abortion, birth control, or the ordination of women should Turkson become Pope. He does not deviate from the party line even on topics where a variety of positions are theologically permissible, such as the end of clerical celibacy.

A good place to go for some perspective on the current goings-on at the Vatican is Andrew Sullivan’s Daily Dish.  An odd bundle of contradictions, Sullivan is a gay conservative Irish-Catholic Obama-lover, and no admirer of the Catholic hierarchy. Here he vents about Cardinal O’Brien of Scotland’s resignation on the eve of the conclave after accusations of sexual impropriety, while the abominable child-abuse-enabling Cardinal Mahony of Los Angeles will attend:

Britain will have no representative at the Conclave because the Cardinals are either too old or too sexually compromised. But Cardinal Mahony of Los Angeles, found unequivocally guilty of hiding and enabling the rape of children, will show up in his red robes. Why exactly is he allowed to go while O’Brien has resigned? Will he grab a sherry with Cardinal Law, another enabler of child-rape actually rewarded by the Vatican with a sinecure in Rome?

And here’s a question: if every Cardinal who had a cover-up of child-rape and abuse under his authority or had had sex with another man were barred from the Conclave, how many would be left?

And then there’s the ex-pope’s living arrangement — he’ll be right there in the Vatican, with his handsome secretary doing double duty as the head of the new pope’s household. Sullivan says:

So Benedict’s handsome male companion will continue to live with him, while working for the other Pope during the day. Are we supposed to think that’s, well, a normal arrangement? . . . This man – clearly in some kind of love with Ratzinger (and vice-versa) will now be working for the new Pope as secretary in the day and spending the nights with the Pope Emeritus. This is not the Vatican. It’s Melrose Place.

Ya can’t make this stuff up.  I know; I tried.

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